Virtual Law Office 103: Cloud Practice Management Software
Is there a better fit for Cloud Practice Management platforms than a law practice in the cloud? That's what a virtual law office (VLO) is -- a law office run entirely online, and cloud practice management software gives you the flexibility needed to run your practice online from anywhere you choose.
There are other benefits too: The redundant backups of your data on your practice management platform's servers are also a significant benefit. And if your platform of choice offers a client portal, those are typically more secure means of communication with your client than email.
Practice From Anywhere
This is the point of the cloud: You can access your online office from anywhere. Your client files, calendar, contact management, billing, invoices, and trust accounting are all available online from any device you choose -- your work laptop, your smartphone, etc.
Not only is this great for maintaining a flexible schedule, but it is also great for clients -- you can be available to answer emergency questions or send them a bill even when you are on vacation (nah) or sitting at the courthouse in between cases (sure).
I've had hard drives fail on me. I've had motherboards cook. I've had power supplies fail.
This is why I use cloud storage (and a cloud practice management suite) and why I advise everyone, from my brother the 1L to myself, the solo attorney, to my buddies in BigLaw. And while even without the cloud practice management platform, some of your data might be online (you probably use DropBox or some alternative, plus something like Google Calendar and Gmail or online Outlook), your cloud platform will have everything backed up: calendars, contacts, billing, client files, etc.
Secure Client Portal
Email is far from secure. And people sometime share passwords with spouses, family members, and secretaries.
The beauty of a secure client portal, which not all practice management platforms offer, is that it is a secure place online where you can exchange messages and files with your client. Of course, not all clients are going to be comfortable with remembering yet another username and password, and learning to use this new system, and some will likely request that you use email instead. How you deal with that is your call, but having the option of a secure portal is nice.
I know what your next question is: Which one? It's a good question, but a loaded one: Our corporate cousins have Firm Central (which is heavily integrated with Westlaw), MyCase has a great platform (which is easier to use, but doesn't offer as many features), and Total Attorneys is feature-packed and cheap (but doesn't seem to be updated as often). Other choices include Clio and RocketMatter.
Compare prices and feature sets to see which is the best fit for you. Some prefer a Toyota Corolla, while others only drive Ferraris, if you get my drift.
- Virtual Law Office 101: Conflict Checks, Intake for Online Clients (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Virtual Law Office 102: Which Web-Conferencing Software Do You Need? (FindLaw's Strategist)
- 5 New Year's Resolutions for Lawyer Introverts (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
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